Malaria Consortium, together with Montrose, has developed an interactive online malaria guide for the private sector in the Asia-Pacific region. This guide will help companies manage the detrimental effects – both human and financial – that malaria can have on their business and minimise their own negative impact on malaria transmission.
Despite having a lower malaria burden than many other parts of the world, malaria in the Asia-Pacific remains a major problem. With an estimated 25 million cases in 2013, the disease takes an enormous toll on both people and economies. For those that are based in rural and semi-urban areas, malaria is a particular concern when it comes to ensuring both a healthy workforce and a steady output.
From a human resources view, there is no doubt that malaria is bad for business. Not only does it result in absenteeism, but it also leads to higher healthcare costs for companies, can cause poor staff morale and can increase corporate reputational risk. Indirectly, malaria can weaken labour productivity, influence decisions on savings and investments, impact household solvency and economic abilities, and alter demographic structures.
But it is also important for businesses to be mindful of the effects that their activities can have on the disease landscape and mitigate accordingly. For example, requiring employees to work outside at night-time, when malaria carrying mosquitoes are most likely to bite, may result in increased transmission. Construction, mining and industrial sites, with their standing pools of water, can also provide the perfect environment for mosquitos to breed and lead to increased outbreaks.
The private sector in the region has the potential to contribute significantly to malaria control efforts if it is prepared to refrain from potentially harmful activities and take active measures to reduce malaria. Such measures could include the improvement of irrigation to prevent the formation of pools of standing water, mosquito net supply and other preventive measures, as well as providing malaria treatment and testing facilities for employees and the wider community – especially in more remote locations. This new online Interactive Malaria Guide is a useful tool that will help inform companies of concrete steps they can take to prevent, treat and control malaria. It is designed with those companies working in extractive industries (oil and gas, mining), infrastructure (roads, dam-building), and agri-business in mind, and provides guidance for senior management, site/asset level management, corporate environmental health and safety personnel, and social performance managers.
The website contains a wealth of information on malaria in the Asia-Pacific and has an interactive questionnaire approach that helps users find solutions relevant to their context. Our hope is that the guide will help company personnel understand all available options for addressing specific malaria-related problems, reduce the impact of malaria on their business and get more involved in combating malaria.
Keywords: Private sector